Manhattan District Attorney is reviewing case files linked to the 1965 murder of the Black nationalist leader, who was shot dead aged 39. A Netflix series alleges two men jailed for the killing were wrongly convicted, while four men escaped arrest.
For many of his most ardent admirers, a Netflix documentary confirms what they already knew - that the truth of Malcolm X’s murder was covered up and his real killers got away.
Now there are signs that the official narrative might be about to change. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has confirmed that it will review files relating to the assassination of the Black Nationalist icon.
The documentary, follows self-trained investigator Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, as he interviews those who knew Malcolm X and others connected to the killing at New York’s Audubon Ballroom in February 1965.
Key allegations in the series include the charge that federal investigators did not release evidence identifying four co-conspirators involved in the killing, thereby leading to the wrongful conviction of two men.
Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson served life sentences for the killing, alongside Talmadge Hayer who admitted to his role in the assassination.
After he was jailed, Hayer, who was later known as Mujahid Abdul Halim, named four of his accomplices and said Butler and Johnson were not involved in the death.
The pair, who later took the names Muhammad Abdul Aziz and Khalil Islam, is not believed to have been present at the Audubon at the time of Malcolm X’s murder. This admission was not properly acted upon by officials, according to the documentary.
All those implicated are members of the Nation of Islam (NOI) - A black nationalist organisation to which Malcolm X belonged until a high profile split in the years before his death.
Malcolm X had warned that the organisation was out to get him and frequently warned that he would die either at their hands or at the hands of the FBI.
Malcolm X was one of the most outspoken black nationalist leaders. But not many know what the 'X' in his name stands for pic.twitter.com/rtfBudQ0oC— TRT World (@trtworld) September 23, 2018
The documentary recounts a number of seemingly half-hearted attempts by the authorities to ensure Malcolm X’s security before his assassination and flaws in the way the murder investigation was carried out.
Previously a hardline spokesman for the NOI, Malcolm X renounced his anti-white beliefs after going on the Hajj pilgrimage and embracing an orthodox interpretation of Islam.
While in Mecca, the black leader was taken aback by the sense of fraternity between Muslim pilgrims of different racial backgrounds, including those who were white and blonde-haired.
The experience had a life-changing impact on him and led him to declare: “America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white, but the white attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all together, irrespective of their color.”
Malcolm X was in the midst of transformation brought about by his experiences at the time of his death when he was just 39.
Born as Malcolm Little in Omaha in the US state of Nebraska in 1925, X’s early childhood was marred by the murder of his father by white racists and the mental breakdown of his mother, which he blamed on her harassment by state officials.
In his teens, he moved to Boston to live with his sister and then New York City. There he soon turned to crime and hustling, a spiral, which ended in his arrest for burglary in 1946.
It was in prison that Malcolm X adopted the black nationalist teachings of Elijah Muhammad and dedicated himself to moral and intellectual self-improvement by reading.
On his release from prison on parole in 1952, X became a minister and spokesperson for the Nation of Islam and helped the group become the largest black nationalist organisation within the African American community.